How does plastic packaging affect the environment? | Teen Ink

How does plastic packaging affect the environment?

October 4, 2022
By EricPark BRONZE, Seoul, Other
EricPark BRONZE, Seoul, Other
1 article 1 photo 0 comments

In contemporary society, the usage of plastic packaging has surged to the point where more than 400 million tonnes of plastics go to waste annually throughout the world. The rapid development of the food delivery system highly contributed to such an increase. In Korea, for example, the demand for delivery food has especially been high due to the abundant population of people who live alone. Though, as COVID-19 rapidly spread in the country, citizens’ dependence on food delivered through plastic packaging rose exponentially. 

According to the Korean Ministry of Environment's research on the total amount of plastic waste in Korea from 2019 to 2020, the accumulated waste demonstrated an immense leap from 131 tons in 2019 to 251 tons in 2020. Within a year, plastic waste almost doubled in number, which reflects the surge in delivery food demand after the outbreak of the pandemic. If these astronomical figures of plastic waste continue, microplastics and plastic packaging would cover the Earth within decades as it takes more than 500 years for them to decompose naturally. 

Besides concerns about the future, the current global ecosystem is already in danger from microplastics and pollution emitted from landfills. As the news these days shows, animals and marine organisms around the world are suffering from plastic scraps and microplastics. Specifically, organisms seldom mistake plastics as their prey and suffer from indigestion. Unfortunately, they eventually die from the accumulation of microplastics. Furthermore, land animals often get strangled by plastic bags and wrappers. Now that the severity of plastic packaging’s influences is stated, what could be done to improve the situation? 

In order to fix the environmental pollution caused by plastic packaging, its usage should be ceased. Instead, eco-friendly packaging with the same capability could supplant plastic packaging in the delivery of food. Nevertheless, under the current circumstances - the amount of time and effort it takes to come up with a new method of packaging, the difference in price between the original and the eco-friendly technique, etc - the invention and implementation of pollutant-free material could not be as feasible as it seems. 

We all must play our part and take greater care in discarding and managing plastic waste. People could separate plastic bottles from plastic packaging as it is easier for plastic bottles to be recycled. Instead of recycling, individuals could also reuse plastic packaging by washing it thoroughly. Besides recycling, people could also lower the frequency of ordering delivery food and either go outside to eat or cook at home. Under such severe consequences of plastic packaging, the world as a whole should pay better attention to diminishing the number of plastic waste. 

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